Reveley presents on merits of war powers of President and Congress

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October 14, 2010

10:48 PM

College of William and Mary President Taylor Reveley gave his first academic lecture of the year in the Sadler Center Wednesday, addressing the war powers of the U.S. presidency.

In the lecture, sponsored by the International Relations Club, Reveley spoke about his experience in politics and international relations, leading up to an explanation of the ambiguity of the U.S. Constitution with regard to control over our military during a time of war.

IR Club President Kedar Pavgi ’11 presented Reveley as the club’s first IRC Fellow, someone with experience in foreign relations.

“I’m really thrilled to see you all here. A gold star for each of you,” Reveley said.

Reveley described his path through international relations, politics, law and teaching.

He began by tracing his passion for international relations back to 6th or 7th grade.

Reveley explained that watching the Hungarian Revolution play out in 1956 fueled his desire to become a U.S. ambassador.

However, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 had a major impact on Reveley, and he decided to go into politics.

After describing his experience in law and international relations, Reveley moved onto the topic of war powers. The main argument among scholars is whether the president or the Congress ultimately controls our military when the use of force abroad is involved, according to Reveley.

“There is a vast disagreement among legal scholars. The executive and legislative branches have bumped and ground against each other like tectonic plates,” Reveley said. “The courts have not supplied answers as to what they believe the Constitution says concerning the war powers — it’s all very vague.”

Reveley cited three policy issues — the initiation, conduct and termination of a conflict — in which war powers between the president and Congress differ, and four things that shape the war powers into what they are today — the actual text in the Constitution, what the purpose of the framers was, evolving beliefs about what the war powers provisions mean and how the war powers have actually been divided in real situations.

“I thought that the presentation was informative and enjoyable,” Daniel Casey ’14 said. “[Reveley] was entertaining while still communicating the fundamental principles and challenges behind the tug-of-war between the executive and legislative branches concerning war powers. It was an excellent chance to become more familiar with the president as an academic rather than an administrator.”

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